A Week In The Life Of A Medical Student | Surgery Rotation

Friday, 6 July 2018
Hi guys!
For this rotation, I decided to do a Week In My Life for my very first week of the rotation. I thought it would show a good idea of how dysfunctional the med student life can be sometimes, and I wasn't wrong! I spent the week with the Plastic Surgery Team, so I'll take you through what I got up to.
I called my team the previous Friday to check what time they wanted me there and where to meet them on Monday morning, and they told me we were starting at 7am in the Doctor's room. In a typical Kate fail, I managed to get lost for about an hour before finding them on the morning! I ended up in completely the wrong handover, then finally found the team when they had already finished their ward round.. good start, haha!

They had some spare time before clinic started, so we went for a coffee break before heading into clinic. I sat in with one of the registrars for my first morning, just to get an idea of how their clinic worked before I got chucked in the deep end seeing patients on my own. It was a fairly slow morning with not too many patients, which was nice as it wasn't too stressful!

I had 10 minutes for lunch, so I bought and scoffed a sandwich before running back to clinic.
By the time we finished it was getting a bit dark, so I called my boyfriend to come and pick me up instead of walking home.
When I got home I caught up on the previous evening's episode of Bachelor in Paradise before the big finale later in the evening!
I managed to meet my team in the right place at the right time today, what an achievement! I walked to the hospital and got there just as it started to rain so was pretty chuffed I timed it so well.

The ward round was quick and again we finished by about 7.30, then had time to fill before theatre at 8.15, so myself and the other med student grabbed a coffee and sat outside chatting for a bit which was really nice. They had a very accurate sign on the blackboard outside the coffee shop that I thought I'd include!
Our first surgery for the day was 3 and a half hours long, and I got to scrub in for the first time ever! We were doing a skin graft on a man's lower leg and I got the ever-so-useful job of holding his leg in the air while they were doing the lower side. That was my workout for the day done!

We had two other surgeries that were a bit shorter, both involving some complicated skin cancer excisions, and I got to scrub in and help cut sutures and hold things for those as well- not the most exciting job in the world but it's nice to be in where the action is and see what's going on!

We finished at 4.30 and I ducked home to get changed and have some food before our rural health club meeting at 6.30. Holy were my feet sore!
Another day, another 5.45AM alarm! Ward rounds were quick as usual, with us having time to grab a coffee before the multidisciplinary team meeting at 8. This was talking about a few melanoma and skin condition patients with a lot of specialists present including the pathologist, dermatologist, radiologist and oncologist as well as our plastics team. It was pretty entertaining seeing all their different opinions and debating diagnosis and treatment options. They had breakfast at the meeting too, so I did like Bilbo and had second breakfast...who am I to turn down free food?!

We then went over to clinic for an hour before I ducked out to a two hour tutorial on pancreas and gall bladder issues. It was really interesting and the registrar teaching us was really good, he made me understand things so much better!

After that we went to a meeting with a representative for breast implants, which was pretty interesting, and she brought so much sushi for us! I was feeling pretty lucky that I got free food twice in one day.

During the afternoon we went into theatre for half an hour to do a washout of a man's foot that had got infected. Then I went off back to the ward to talk to a patient, as I needed to do a case study for my assignment.

I was home by 3.30 and went for a walk along the esplanade with my boyfriend, then helped him make a super yummy basil chicken dish for dinner. He loves cooking and is so good at it, so I'm a pretty lucky gal to get to taste test everything he makes!
Alas, my team forgot to tell me that on Thursday they start at 7.30, so I was there bright and early at 7 and wondering where they all were! I was very sad that I missed out on half an hour extra of sleep, but managed to do a few bits and odds of study on my phone while I was waiting for them.

We had theatre all day today, with a pretty complicated breast implant removal that took almost all morning. We then had a Rheumatology tutorial in the afternoon. The lecturer who takes this tutorial likes to pick on us and ask lots of questions, so I was on the edge of my seat waiting to be asked something complicated the whole time!

Later on I went to a new gym class with my friend, and the instructor picked on me the whole time because I was pretty terrible haha...It was a barre class that involves a lot of ballet-related moves, which proved a bit tricky for me, being the least graceful person ever!

I then cooked haloumi burgers for dinner, which went down a treat.
Same old, same old...we had our ward round at 7 and then another full day of theatre.
First up we had 2 blepharoplasties, which is a long fancy word for 'eyelid tuck', where they take out any excess skin and fat to open up the eyelids a bit more. After that we did a skin graft for a guy who had fallen off his motorbike. I scrubbed in for two of the procedures and got to help out a little bit, cutting stitches. Pretty much the whole team was there in theatre so we were having fun all helping out and asking the consultant lots of questions, which was nice.

In the first blepharoplasty whilst we were sewing up, the needle managed to go flying off the end of the suture thread and we spent a tense five minutes trying to find where it went! The needles and thread used on an eyelid are absolutely tiny and so hard to see, but we found it in the end.

Each week a few of us have to do a presentation on a Friday afternoon for assessment, so I went to that, during which we got an email reminder from the admin office that we had a suturing workshop at 4pm...which we had known nothing about. I then panicked when I remembered I hadn't sent in my application for a placement I want next year, so I madly wrote my application and got it sent in with about 10 minutes to spare! Then, after an hour of us waiting around for the suturing workshop, they came and told us the surgeon cancelled it. Not gonna lie, I was pretty mad, but that's just what happens in our med life haha...

So I walked home along the esplanade and then had a nice bath to celebrate surviving my first week of surgery!


Having now finished my surgery rotation, I definitely think this was one of my nicest weeks in surgery, both in terms of not finishing too late in the day, as well as having a nice team! The surgeon stereotype was a lot more true for some of the other teams I was with, they really like to ask complicated questions and yell at you if you don't know. But I came out the other end alive, so that's the most important thing!

What does your typical week look like? I'd love to know in the comments!
Kate x


  1. The life of a med student sounds so grueling, but it sounds like you're getting by so congrats! My typical weeks differ massively, but I suppose that's the life of an art student ;)
    Jas xx

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment Jas! Honestly most of the time I am just barely getting by, haha. I'd be so interested to hear what your typical weeks look like though! xx